FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I’m struggling to afford the house I want to buy anyway and the estate agent reckons it’s not worth paying for a survey so do I really need one?
Asked by: Jason
It’s a very important question because when you’re buying a property there’s obviously a huge amount of expense already with things like stamp duty and conveyancing. So with a typical survey costing £350 or more it might indeed seem like a bit of a luxury.
The problem for most buyers is that there are 101 things to think about when viewing a property, not least negotiating the purchase price. Even if you know what to look for it’s hard to focus at the same time on technical issues like damp, asbestos or structural movement in walls and roofs.
Remember that the estate agents are acting for the seller – so they don’t want buyers raising awkward questions about defects and dangers their surveyor has spotted. And even if an estate agent knows about a problem there’s no legal duty for them to tell you if there’s something wrong. So buying property is very much a case of ‘buyer beware’.
Your purchase won’t look too clever if, within a few weeks of actually moving in, you get stuck with a massive bill for repairs, or someone gets electrocuted from dodgy wiring. So it’s obviously far better to be aware of any issues before you buy so you can make an informed decision about how much you’re willing to pay and, if necessary, budget for any repair work that will need doing.
Remember also that when the estate agents valued the property originally, the asking price assumed that the roof, walls, floors, and heating system etc were all OK.
So armed with a survey, you should be able to use the findings to negotiate with the vendor. For example if your survey finds that you will need to undertake repairs costing £8,000 you could ask for this amount off the price, or alternatively ask them to make the necessary repairs before you move in.
The main benefit of a survey is that it will alert you to hidden risks and dangers, giving you solid reasons to justify a price reduction.
It can also highlight’s the property’s potential for future extending or converting. By describing any defects and suggesting solutions you will be able to explain to builders exactly what work is required. For a tiny % of the cost of the purchase price a survey gives you peace of mind that you’re not buying a ‘lemon’.
And having an experienced property professional on your side should cut out a lot of stress and worry with a house purchase.